If you want to live a long life, good genes combined with a healthy lifestyle are the key to longevity. It also helps if you can reside in Hawaii.
The Aloha State, along with California, topped the list ranking U.S. states according to life expectancy at birth, with residents there expected to make it to almost 81, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report released last week.
States with the highest life expectancy:
At the opposite end of the spectrum, residents of West Virginia and Mississippi had the nation’s lowest life expectancy at about 74.
Overall, Americans are expected to live 78.8 years. The findings are based on death rates in 2019.
States with the lowest life expectancy:
The report didn’t explain why some parts of the country enjoy better longevity, but Hawaii has long been a wellness star on lists measuring health and happiness. It has appeared in the top spot over and over again when Gallup and other organizations ranked states according to wellness.
“It’s not ever a shock to see Hawaii high (on the list),” Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index, previously told TODAY.
“Hawaiians rate their lives pretty high… things like enjoyment, smiling and laughter and happiness are all very high in Hawaii. And stress is very low.”
Very few people who live there are obese or smoke. The rate of depression is low, while the rate of exercise is high.
Living in scenic, year-round warm places like Hawaii and California may play a role in healthy longevity, but more important factors can include the quality of medical care, the environment in which people live and work, and the local health culture.
Overall, states with the highest life expectancy at birth were predominantly in the West and Northeast, while states with the lowest life expectancy were mostly in the South.
One possible reason is the relationship between health and socioeconomic status, with wealthier regions getting a health advantage, experts have said.
West Virginia and Mississippi have previously been listed at the bottom of other wellness rankings. Their residents have historically had a high rate of obesity and smoking. West Virginia has the country’s highest adult rate of diabetes at 15.7%, according to the State of Childhood Obesity.
No matter where you live in the U.S., women enjoy higher life expectancy than men in all states: Overall, they’re expected to live more than 81 years, compared to about 76 for men. California ranked first for male life expectancy.
A. Pawlowski is a TODAY senior contributing editor focusing on health news and features. Previously, she was a writer, producer and editor at CNN.